The right formula for China

Marlborough Express - - FOOD - GERARD HUTCHING

Fewer com­pa­nies are be­ing reg­is­tered to ex­port in­fant formula to China, but growth in the sec­tor is con­tin­u­ing to forge ahead.

ANZ econ­o­mist Con Wil­liams said the value of New Zealand in­fant formula ex­ports to all coun­tries had grown by 40 per cent since 2010, and he pre­dicted it would top the $1 bil­lion-a-year mark soon.

In a sur­vey by the Min­tel re­search com­pany, more than half (57 per cent) of Chi­nese moth­ers thought prod­ucts from New Zealand and Aus­tralia were bet­ter than those from other coun­tries, com­pared with 32 per cent for north­ern Europe and 28 per cent for North Amer­ica.

China, which im­ports an over­whelm­ing pro­por­tion of the New Zealand prod­uct, has tight­ened up on the num­bers of com­pa­nies al­lowed to sell in­fant formula. In re­sponse to safety scares, in 2015 the Chi­nese Gov­ern­ment de­cided to reg­u­late what was de­scribed as a ‘‘Wild West’’.

There are now 13 New Zealand­based man­u­fac­tur­ers reg­is­tered to ex­port in­fant formula to China, down from a high of about 200. They have to fol­low a two-step process, firstly hav­ing their can­ning plants reg­is­tered, and then their in­fant formula recipes.

They in­clude big names such as Fon­terra, Syn­lait, Nu­tri­cia and Yashili, but also niche busi­nesses such as NIG Nutri­tion­als and the Dairy Goat Co-op­er­a­tive, both of which sell goat in­fant formula.

From Jan­uary 1, China will re­quire all man­u­fac­tur­ers who ex­port in­fant formula to China to have their in­fant formula recipes reg­is­tered with the China Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion (CFDA).

Syn­lait, Fon­terra and Yashili are the first New Zealand man­u­fac­tur­ers to have their in­fant formula recipes reg­is­tered.

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